By Joanie Marx
All of us have a philosophy that directs our life’s decisions. Most people rarely take the time to see that their philosophies, and thus, their thoughts, are at distinct odds with one another. Our psyche is a blinding kaleidoscope of contradictive philosophies competing for our full-time attention. Over our lifetime, these philosophies intrude into our experiences. They become so pervasive that it is not uncommon for us to forget who we are or how our behavior is impacting the lives of those we spend our time with.
We all operate under our own distinct philosophies. Our philosophies define our thoughts as much as they shape our lives. They can bring us to fulfillment and they can tear us apart, dragging us to the brink of total emotional breakdown. It is here, in the heart of our inner most fears, where our willingness to let go of what no longer serves us that the driving force behind our thoughts and actions is revealed.
It took me many years, and some very painful experiences, to realize my philosophy of getting through life was unknowingly rooted in guilt and shame. For me the guilt stemmed from thinking I did something wrong by never being able to fully satisfy my mother’s expectations. The shame evolved from never feeling satisfied for what I did in my life. I am now aware of what used to drive my thoughts and because of this, I am better equipped to navigate life’s challenges. During the research for this book, I also learned I am far from being alone in the experiences of living in guilt and shame.
DAMNED IF WE DID & DAMNED IF WE DIDN’T
Overlooking the contradictory nature of our thoughts and philosophies makes it increasingly difficult to pinpoint where the cause and solution are to the stresses we face in our lives. So often, we tend to perceive our problems as coming from an outside set of forces we cannot control. But, once we can see the distinct polarities and contradictions of our thoughts we have a much better chance at making lasting changes to our lives. To reconcile all of this we need to honestly look at where we seek validation outside of ourselves
In many respects, our generation was damned if we did and damned if we didn’t. If we did what we wanted to do, we were labeled as being selfish. If we did what we were told by our parents and society, no matter what we accomplished, it was rarely good enough. Growing up, there were countless occasions when my mother would say how selfish I was for doing anything that wasn’t aligned with her desires for me.
When I followed her script for me and did as she wanted me to, I was praised. As quickly as I would receive her approval, I would find myself being critiqued for doing something that wasn’t up to her standards. This was commonplace for many families of the Baby Boomer era and it spilled over into each generation since. For some, this can be fuel to an unquenchable need to prove we are worthy. It is also where the seed of guilt and shame is planted, framing the philosophies and myths we were raised on.
* This post is an excerpt from the section titled, “All the Time In the World” in Chapter 13 of my #1 Amazon best-selling book, “Facelifts, Money and Prince Charming: Break Baby Boomer Myths and Live Your Best Life”.
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